Tuesday, January 19, 2016


1 - SPOTLIGHT (Tom McCarthy) - For triggering me and setting me free; for nailing big city-small town Boston; for reportage, writing and cast 
2 - UNCLE JOHN (Steven Piet) - For both bleakness and incandescence, downright Shakespearean; for the gift of John (Ashton) and being a bona fide heartbreaker 
3 - BLACKHAT (Michael Mann) - For bravely cutting through pretense and expectation; for strong women, swoon-inducing scenes of adult intimacy, quotable dialogue and brief but bravura, exquisitely designed, intensely visceral, ground-zero-level bursts of violence; for a provocative, ferocious, insurgent attempt to invigorate the medium; see also #4 
4 - MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (George Miller) - For fire and blood and chrome; for redemption and resurrection; for women empowered, Junkie XL and hope; see also #3 
5 - LOVE AND MERCY (Bill Pohlad) - For illustrating the frustrating and gorgeous madness of process and the process of frustrating and gorgeous madness 
6 - STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (F. Gary Gray) - For history 
7 - THE DEAD LANDS (Toa Fraser) - For mysticism, cannibalism, knockout New Zealand vistas and a Michael Mann-ish score; for being the best film since Sayles' 1996 LONE STAR about an individual's personal quest forever altering global history 
8 - IT FOLLOWS (David Robert Mitchell) - For earnestly reenvisioning Carpenter and Craven, and for Detroit kids 
UNFRIENDED (Levan Gabriadze) - For slyly and subversively deconstructing the 'found footage' film, and for being socially relevant besides 
9 - EX MACHINA (Alex Garland) - For Kubrickian cerebral pulp, gender politics, and grrl robot power 
10 - SPY (Paul Feig) - For being the anti-ENTOURAGE in its proactive progressiveness 

Honorable Mention: 
Christopher (son of Michael) Landon's THE SCOUT'S GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, for being unpretentious retro fun (even despite zombie rape gag) 

MAGGIE (Henry Hobson) - For being ridiculously amateurish in both its filmmaking and self-conscious faux-pretentiousness; those interested would do better to rewatch Cronenberg's THE FLY - the film MAGGIE's makers think we're too young or too dumb to remember. 

Just a Darling

Lowbrow enough to include a closeup of an eye stabbing, highbrow enough to reference Godard, Lewis Jackson's 1980 YOU BETTER WATCH OUT! - the original title of CHRISTMAS EVIL (which I originally viewed on VHS as TERROR IN TOYLAND) - works as sophisticated satire, serious character study, coal-black comedy, vigilante film, slasher, early 80s New York time capsule, and superhero origin story. A cross between HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER and A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, it's in my All-Time Top Ten, and perhaps the film I've seen most times in my life. It also contains one of the most committed performances ever put to celluloid (by Brandon Maggart, aka Fiona Apple, Sr.), as well as one of cinema's greatest parting shots (see too Chaplin's CITY LIGHTS, the original TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3 and Mann's HEAT).

Be good


That moment where she laughs off both Loomis's warnings and the tears in her eyes before going to that barn party...yeah. Clearly a survivor. Or that stunning, quiet-but-loaded character moment wherein she tosses the teddy bear she'd been clutching to crawl ever so slowly towards the mirror - towards herself...what, who does she see? And, far as I can tell, she lives on, as Michael only stabs her shoulder, and that white sheet's not over her face (listen, you stay in denial about the oxymoron that is 'gun control', I'll keep this girl alive and with a bright future as a high school guidance counselor cum uber-successful therapist and author).

She's shrill and obnoxious until a crisis arises and she saves your ass. I love Tina. She's my wallpaper. 

Tina knows

Tina will save your arrogant hide